October 27, 2021

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Meet Female-Forward Paretta Autosport Team Taking On Indy 500

Meet Female-Forward Paretta Autosport Team Taking On Indy 500

Illustration for article titled Meet The Full Female-Forward Paretta Autosport Team Taking On The Indy 500

Photo: James Black / IndyCar Media

As 33 cars line up for the start of the iconic 500-mile race tomorrow morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the final starter on the grid will be making history. The No. 16 car will be driven by Simona de Silvestro and is fielded by Paretta Autosport. This is not only the first time a woman-owned team will be aiming for the iconic win—it’ll be the first time a female-forward crew will help make that effort happen. And today, we’re going to introduce you to the women on the team that are breaking boundaries.

“With this IndyCar team, I have some veterans, and I have some women that are new to motorsport,” Beth Paretta told me in an interview with A Girls Guide to Cars. “I’ve done that on purpose, because I don’t necessarily want to do things the way everybody else has been doing them. This is meant to be more than a race team. I need people to understand that this comes with all the extras, because all the extras are what makes it special.

“When I’ve been hiring for the pit crew, I let them know: you’re going to have to do some public speaking,” Paretta said. “That’s not normally on the job description!”

That’s because this team is designed to show women that motorsport is more than just a male-dominated sphere. It’s a place to showcase your engineering skills on the big stage. As Paretta said, it also provides immediate feedback: instead of having to wait to see how your work fares on a car that’s set to be launched in a year, you can see it every single weekend on the race track.

These are things that women may not know, but that Paretta Autosport is dedicated to bringing to the fore.

Illustration for article titled Meet The Full Female-Forward Paretta Autosport Team Taking On The Indy 500

Photo: Chris Owens IndyCar Media

Beth Paretta

  • CEO/Team Principal
  • Started working at automotive dealerships before becoming a business development manager for Volkswagen of America, then moved into positions with Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, and Fiat Chrysler
  • Became first female director of a performance brand when she took on a role as director of marketing and operations for FCA’s Street and Racing Technology brand
  • Her teams earned three national titles
  • Launched Grace Autosport in 2015, then Paretta Autosport in collaboration with Team Penske

Simona de Silvestro

  • Driver
  • Has a long history of racing in IndyCar, Formula E, and Supercars, as well as being a Porsche factory driver
  • Only woman competing in the 2021 Indy 500
  • This is her sixth Indy 500; her best finish came in 2010 with a 14th place

Ayla Agren

  • Spotter
  • Racing driver with dual citizenship of Norway and Sweden
  • Currently in the W Series, winner of the 2014 Formula Ford-spec F1600
  • Former spotter for Ben Hanley in IndyCar, others in sports car racing

Caitlyn Brown

  • Mechanic / IF Tire
  • Graduated NASCAR Technical Institute in 2018; runner-up for Roger Penske Outstanding Student Award; on the NASCAR Technical Institute Director’s Honors List
  • Assembly team member at Team Penske

Andra Buzatu

  • Mechanic
  • Joined the Coast Guard, then attended Machinery Technician school to become a diesel mechanic
  • Currently attends NASCAR Technical Institute

Madison Conrad

  • Mechanic / IR Tire
  • Graduated from NASCAR Technical Institute in 2017, earned Roger Penske Outstanding Student Award the year prior
  • Started career as intern for Roush Yates Engines, moved into role as marketing specialist and post-race technician who specializes in teardown and inspection of the engine after races
  • 2014 Track Champion, 2012 Sandia Speedway Rookie of the Year

Illustration for article titled Meet The Full Female-Forward Paretta Autosport Team Taking On The Indy 500

Photo: Joe Skibinski IndyCar Media

Linda Conti

  • Spotter
  • Daughter of a flat track motorcycle racer; studied automotive engineering at Henry Ford College and the first woman mechanic hired by Skip Barber Pro Series
  • Co-owned an IndyCar team with her husband Dave; she’s believed to be the first woman team manager in Indy 500 history
  • Currently a senior executive vice president of Acorn Advisors Group
  • Earned a reputation as a great driver spotter

Sara Durant

  • Tires
  • Has been a tire specialist for stock car racing teams (including Stewart-Haas) and Rev Racing as part of the Drive for Diversity program

Amanda Frayer

  • Outside Rear Tire Changer
  • No motorsport background but has the physical fitness and desire required for the job
  • Former collegiate field hockey and basketball athlete

Mallorie Muller

  • Crew Member
  • Member of Cheersport National Championship team for University of Georgia
  • Crossfit and Grid League competitor, holder of a Master of Science degree

Chelsea Pechenino

  • Assistant Data Engineer
  • Current student at Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Business

Lauren Sullivan

  • Aero Engineer
  • Started career as wind tunnel test engineer for Boeing, then moved to Team Penske
  • Advocate for women in STEM

Runa Amin

  • Marketing and Events Intern
  • Current student at Purdue School of Engineering and Technology with double major in motorsports engineering and German
  • Mentee of Women in Engineering Network, crew chief mentee in the Society of Women Engineers all-female kart team; mentor at her university
  • Received Jaguar Excellence Award academic scholarship and the Mitch Daniel Early Graduation scholarship

Stacey Bakaj

  • Design and Web Development
  • Two decades of experience in digital advertising, branding, information design, and letterpress
  • Mentor for the Youth Design Boston program
  • Led design team at The Grommet e-commerce brand

Barbara Burns

  • Public Relations
  • Has worked in almost all forms of motorsport, from boat racing to Formula One, as a PR rep for race tracks, sanctioning bodies, media, and race teams
  • Has owned her own Burns Group PR company for nearly thirty years

Maria Grady

  • Photographer
  • Motorsports Hall of Fame of America photographer
  • Served as volunteer at F1 race in Detroit
  • Photographed for Shell Motorsports, Team Rahal, sponsors, LAT Photographic
  • Background in sales

Belicia Montgomery

  • Business Operations
  • Was mentored by Beth Paretta as part of the Sports Business Journal CSM Mentoring Challenge
  • Earned DEI Champion – National Diversity Award and Game Changer award by SBJ

Heather Pirowski

  • Partnerships
  • Founder of Fearless Nation, a fashion start-up that’s designed to empower both women and people with disabilities
  • Served as a volunteer adviser when Grace Autosport attempted the Indy 500
  • Producer of a monthly style segment in Indianapolis

Linda Rosenberg

  • Marketing and Merchandise
  • Began her career in IndyCar as the director of marketing and licensing for Champ Car
  • Also worked with MainGate and Honda Merchandising
  • Has aided IndyCar pit reporters for NBC since 2010